NO REST FOR TABLE-TOPPERS

by .

I kind of covered off my views on the squad Arteta took out to PSV yesterday, so I’ll just mostly bust some myths this afternoon because there’s a section of the fanbase that will happily double down on how Arteta manages his squads, then act shocked when our players crash later in the season.

That game meant nothing.

It was deader than dead. No one could move up or down in the group. It wasn’t even a friendly that had purpose. We earned the privilege of leaving players at home and didn’t take it.

‘Match sharpness needed’

We’ve played 25 games so far this season if you count the Charity Shield. Anyone who works in elite-level fitness in football will tell you it generally takes about 10 games to get to peak fitness. Our squad is match-sharp. We’re top three in the Premier League and we just topped our Champions League group. You do not lose match sharpness in 8 days. 2 weeks? Maybe. But 8 days, it’s not happening. Arteta did not take everyone as a sharpness excercise.

You also don’t chase match sharpness in your busiest month. The job of performance teams during this period is to ensure players aren’t overcooked, especially in a season that has seen way more injuries than normal.

‘Every manager plays his best players’

Statistically, no one played with a more stable starting 11 than Arsenal last season. Manchester City had the second least stable starting 11 last season, and they won the treble.

CHART

As you can see from the graph above, City, United and Liverpool all sit short of 80%. The two clubs that sit above 85% stability were Arsenal, Villa, and Newcastle.

Villa and Newcastle didn’t have European football last season, and Arsenal flunked early in the cups and had the ability to go less than full-throttle in Europa League.

Those factors allowed Arsenal to make a run at the league… but even with the reduced load, we fell short the same way we did the season before.

Fatigue hit the squad hard, particularly after the final international break.

Injuries set in on key players and broke the squad.

The link between fatigue and injuries is very clear. The link between stress injuries and player load management is even closer aligned (Saliba).

Even if you don’t believe in these absolute basics, what you might believe in is this: If the best team in the world rotates the most, plays more games, and wins more trophies than you… maybe you should think about player management as a bit more than a marginal gain.

So, let’s refocus on this season… what is different?

Champions League. Better teams, more important games, no rest. Arsenal has been three games a week since September PLUS three international breaks.

What has that resulted in?

We’ve seen Zinchenko out with injury.

We lost Martin Odegaard to a head injury but there were other problems.

We’ve lost Thomas Partey TWICE because of training ground injuries.

Emile Smith Rowe has been out (I mean, maybe we can let his injury pass).

Fabio Vieira is out.

Tomiyasu, a player who always breaks, was given an extended run in the side and we broke him again.

Ben White usually gets issues late in the season, he’s getting them early this year.

We lost Bukayo Saka for a period and we’ve seen him pulling up on the regular.

Martinelli was lost to a hamstring injury.

Trossard has had a hamstring tweak.

How many more soft tissue injuries do I have to list before you start to get the picture?

Arteta likes to train to extremely intense levels and he doesn’t believe top players should cave to the implications of pain.

That’s just how he is.

Fatigue is cumulative, getting on plains is not a plus for fatigue, we did not have to take the whole squad to PSV.

No one was injured, but these missed opportunities add up over the season, and they always bite you in the end.

So when you hear people minimizing the problems, know they are talking objective nonsense, and if they don’t believe you, show them the evidence we’ve seen three seasons running and compare the injury pile-up this season to our injury problems at the start of last season.

Arteta has a weakness, and it’s player load management.

As for the game, it was a bit of a yawn fest. I like their winger Bakayoko. He looked very tasty.

Arteta made 8 changes from the Villa game, my main pain point was risking our two best centre-backs when we’re suffering a shortage like we are right now. Such a silly risk for zero upside out of chest thumping and winnertivity. I’d have taken Kiwior and a donkey as a pairing over the two we chose.

There were some bright sparks. Eddie had a good game and scored a lovely goal. I also thought Reiss Nelson looked promising and troublesome most of the game.

I felt for Mo Elneny, the injury gods fired off some lightning, and they hit him. Part of coming back from a serious injury is the reality that your body breaks down along the way. Hopefully, his issue is minor. I did love his 35 yard strike, he loves those attempts.

The Mo injury led to Arteta bringing on Declan, Martin, Emile, Jesus, Sir Benny Blanco. It felt like Arteta reminding everyone who is boss. Totally pointless unless the goal was to make sure those players didn’t need to warm down after the game.

It was a shame that we didn’t get to see the young players get a runout. Arteta said PSV were too strong to risk fragile minds. He’ll know better than us on that one. Again, it was a dead game, I’m not sure much harm would have been done. If they can’t handle a PSV game, why are they even there? We put Nwaneri on against a much better team in Brentford, but whatever…

We escaped the battle. Blitzed our group. The broader question we’ll find out later is will Arteta’s methods have us win the war. Or will we be looking at Groundhog Day in March.

We shall see. Arteta went all or nothing on a nothing game. I hope he gets away with it.

Right, that’s me done, see you in the comments. x

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Guns of SF

First

Guns of SF

Hahaha I won the CL, PL, FA all of it

SUGA3

Boom

SUGA3

tropheeeee

TallestTiz

5

Sakablyat

Look at Peps starting 11, and the debutant even scored. Never heard of the guy unlike our superstar Nwaneri who can’t get a single minute

TallestTiz

Who else gets irked by Cedric’s silly crosses.

All he does in an attacking position is cross.

No combination play, no quick one-two, no cut backs

Just aimless crosses to short forwards

TallestTiz

I turn my eyes away from the TV whenever he has the ball in those attacking positions.

Boring as F

englandsbest

In fairness, Arteta did make a lot of changes. And he knows the value of a winning mentality. And he was lucky no first choice players were injured.

Ramsdale was a presence on the pitch, something Raya is not, and never will be. If Arsenal have seemed bland lately, it’s because he wasn’t there.

Karsa

We have not played 3 games a week since September.

Bob N16

Agree Karsa, it’s two games a week. If you say three games ‘in’ a week but then you’d have to say there’s only one more game during the following week.

Karsa

Bob

Using Pedro’s logic we must have played 33 games since the beginning of October.

Yet we have played 25.

And that includes games in August and September.

X haka

Hamilton and Bobb two City youngsters on the scoresheet away in Belgrade.

Mick prefers Cedric and Elneny.

Dreary me.

Whiteydagunner

There have been serious injury issues with our key players for a long time, going back to the mid – Wenger period, This must have cost us a few major trophies. We need to learn from this and the last thing we want is a manager who believes in a strategy of rabid over – training and a non – rotation policy. If MA doesnt have the mentality and skills to make a winning team by a different strategy then its got to be..well sorry mate..lets move on.without you

Ray+in+LA

TallestTiz…I thought Cedric’s quick interchange lead to our goal last night ?

Un

Yeah
Can’t defend tets on this
Doesn’t look smart and if our season fails on key payers breaking then he will kop it for days like these

Chitrak

What a wierd graph

Bilbo

Fully agreed with the above. Zero upside, accumulative load a defo issue. Also annoying thinking about it again whilst City bring on another youngster. Away. At a club that has a record breaking domestic home record.

TheBayingMob

Pedro, what source do you have that Saliba had a stress fracture in his back? When I google online the best I can get is ‘structural damage’ to his back; while that indicates stress fracture for sure, I can’t find anything from the club that talks of vertebrae stress fracture …

Anyone else have any links?

Bob N16

We made eight changes, only Gabriel played 90 mins. Pedro and others are losing their shit over very little.

MG42

It is for nothing that he has earned the nickname Noroteta

X haka

Barcelona tonight in Belgium

Yamal (16), Fort (17), Balde (20), Lopez (20)

benkind

Anyone still defending arteta decision to not give academy players 1 minute of play after the champions league winners City just did and one on the scoring chart. but like Olumide said in the last post, so much mental gymnastics

Paddy Gooner

Bobb and Hamilton are both 20. Nwaneri, Lewis Skelly and Walters are 16,17, and 18.

Bob N16

We finished top of the group, we made eight changes, we got a draw against a team who is extremely strong at home, we gave minutes to players who need it. Our manager decided that it would be detrimental to throw on youngsters. If he’d given Nwaneri five minutes instead of Jesus, I’d have no complaints.

In the main, those supporters who have essentially never liked Arteta, who have been starved of opportunities to pile on Arteta due to the success of the team, have now dived upon the chance to slag off Arteta.

Donstevanni

Arteta shouldn’t have played any first team player in that pointless game

MidwestGun

That graph is weird.. it’s basically saying if you play the same starting 11 you have a better chance of over performing expectations. Probably why managers do it. The reason City is so low on that graph is because everyone expects them to win the league every year no matter how stable the squad. For that graph to make sense.. as part of the argument the number of injuries per team needs to be a part of it. Anyhow… I agree with Pedro that, the game meant absolutely nothing. We could have rolled out 12 people from the away supporter’s… Read more »

MidwestGun

Kind of want Newcastle to win and PSG to lose so we don’t have anyone to draw from that group but not very optimistic that will happen.

Bob N16

Understand your feelings Mid but Newcastle are up there in my least favourite teams at the moment so them crashing out could be good. United have budgeted to get through to QF round, Newcastle will also have less revenue which with their backing is significant with regards FFP. It could also mean that English clubs might not get a fifth CL place which will mess up another of our rivals. Que será será!

MG42

Bob your love in for Arteta clearly shows in your comments. Up your game with this Athletic piece that discusses needles risks or vital for mentality. You are on the wrong side of the argument, if not than you are attempting to troll the Blog.

https://theathletic.com/5131819/2023/12/13/arteta-selection-saliba-psv?source=user-shared-article

Gazza

Arteta cant do right for doing wrong !

MidwestGun

Ya Bob .. not rooting for them .. for sure. Kind of like the Milan players with Pulisic, Leao and Geeee roo. But it would help us if Newcastle win so I’d be good with it.

MidwestGun

Milan defender saved a goal off the line .. crazy good clearance.

Bob N16

MG42, I’m not a massive Arteta fan but I feel as though he deserves more credit than you and others are willing to give him. It might suit your understanding to present my views as ‘extremist’ or ‘fanboy’ to allow your own to appear more reasonable.

Foxy

Arteta maybe giving a strong but unwelcome message to our talented youngsters, basically go elsewhere if you want first team football.

MG42

He screwed up with his selection for the PSV game end of story. Until we see silverware from him, he is what many her perceive him to be, an apprentice in the manager in training gig.

MidwestGun

With Newcastle winning .. might have to switch over to PSG game see what’s up with that.

MG42

Arteta was the Grinch in not giving Nwaneri or 18-year-old full-backs Lino Sousa and Reuell Walters a start, never mind no minutes at all in the PSV game.

Spanishdave

Arteta knows how to piss off the youth players, no future for them
Check book manager.

Bertie Mee

Agree with your premise Pedro but just one caveat. PSV are a much better team than Brentford last season. They’ve won every league game this season and their only defeat was to us.
Brentford would not be skating the Eredivisie .
But Arteta took ridiculous risks and could have discovered a lot about Reuell Walters and a bit more about Nwaneri. It’s going to be hard to get Walters and Sousa to sign new contracts next year

Chris

45 mins away from PSG in Europa League.

Also Atletico winning and topping their group currently so we’d avoid them in R16 at least

Chris

As it stands, our possible R16 opponents

Copenhagen
Napoli
Inter
Lazio
Leipzig
Porto

MidwestGun

Our old European nemesis Barca threatening to drop into second in their group. Although. I think Porto would have to score more goals in their game regardless.

MidwestGun

Antwerp was ahead but their goal got chalked off for offside.

MidwestGun

PSG pretty well screwed, now.

MG42

Those fuckers deserve the EL because I believe that trophy is not in their cabinet

MidwestGun

Nope 1-1 now.. haha good match.

MG42

Those fuckers deserve the EL because I believe that trophy is not in their cabinet. Couldn’t happen to nicer loosers.

MidwestGun

I think Newcastle have the tie breaker though. Barca losing now.. they are struggling.

MG42

If PSG draws and Newcastle wins PSG is in the EL

MG42

Newcastle wins on head to head tie breaker

MidwestGun

Standings changing by the minute.. My boy Pulisic with a goal.

Spanishdave

17 year old scores for PSG take note Micky

jwl

Someone pissed in Pedro’s cornflakes this morning, I was not expecting the tone of post today. I thought Arteta did alright last night, we didn’t embarrass ourselves and second team got minutes.

Not playing youngsters last night if Arteta worried about psychology of youth makes sense, what does an eighteen year old defender making his first senior appearance learn if we get mauled four nil or makes mistake at last minute to allow psv win last night.

Pep good at regularly rotating most of his players, only core 3/4 players started more than 30 prem league matches last season.

larry mccarthy

Walters should have had some minutes, we are short of numbers at the back a he can also play centre half. .

MidwestGun

Guess Barca can’t finish second due to head to head. That’s good, no desire to draw them next round.

MidwestGun

This really is the group of death… coming down to the last minute .. both games.. could go either way.

MidwestGun

Mbappe puts PSG ahead now. and Var chalks it off. ,, offside.

MG42

Who ever finishes 3rd and drops into the EL will have to play a qualifying match against 2nd place EL team. Would love to see PSG in that situation and losing like Barca did last season.

MidwestGun

Wow this is crazy.. haha I think Milan could actually move thru now if Dortmund can score.

Mr Serge

Wow see ya Newcastle you cunts

MidwestGun

Come on Dortmund knock these dudes out.

MidwestGun

Damn.. was really hoping PSG would get dropped out.. don’t really want to draw them.. as much as a Saliba versus Mbappe matchup would be interesting.

MG42

Man Utd & NC finishing bottom of the table doesn’t help us in our coefficient to get 5 CL spots.

MidwestGun

Newcastle completely fucked though… Howe looking like somebody kicked his dog.

Spanishdave

Only four slots next year.
Newcastle need a better manager.
We need Mbappe.

Mr Serge

Midwest we would beat psg they got smashed at Newcastle

Benjamin

Man Utd & NC finishing bottom of the table doesn’t help us in our coefficient to get 5 CL spots.

Who gives a fuck, we are no longer fighting
for 4th place..

Mr Serge

I don’t care about the 5 th spot we are easily gonna do top 4

Mr Serge

Exactly Benjamin

MidwestGun

Well for me.. good draw.. Copenhagen , Lazio, Leipzig
Not so good…. …. Porto, Inter, Napoli
Just don’t go there ping pong ball God’s ……. PSG.

MidwestGun

Ya we could win any of them.. Bob… we are pretty good But just don’t like that matchup.

MidwestGun

I mean Serge..

Mr Serge

Midwest inter are better than psg I don’t rate them

MG42

“Who gives a fuck, we are no longer fighting
for 4th place.”

Ah, you got a crystal ball telling you where we will finish? Again, another poster with wishful thinking.

Mr Serge

Just because of mbappe I suppose middy

Mr Serge

Mg42 no just not a fake fan we are easily in the top 3 teams in the league without question

Mr Serge

Why be pessimistic ? Oh that’s right because you have nothing positive to say ever get stuffed

MidwestGun

Not just Mbappe.. but ya .. they can kill your high line pretty quickly. They have some game changers. Just prefer to let somebody else knock them out. haha Anyways guess we will find out our fate … Monday.

jwl

From twitter, don’t want Napoli or psg but there no teams we should fear, are the big teams in a different group?
——

Potential UCL opponents for The Arsenal.

Inter
Lazio
Napoli
Porto
RB Leipzig
Copenhagen
PSG

Mr Serge

Great to be in the draw in pot 1 too middy

MidwestGun

Ya that was huge .. finishing top…. Pot 2 would be a bad draw no matter who you get.

Mr Serge

For sure

vieira

Sorry we do not beat PSG that easily, certainly not on football they played tonight, they were electric and very difficult to understand why the balls did not go in for them so may times. PSG would be the Nr one team I would be desperate to avoid. I enjoyed Both Uniteds departing, however I worry the drop in coefficient for premier league may have to haunt us in future but them both dropping their financial potential in terms of Premier league is fantastic for us.

Benjamin

Ah, you got a crystal ball telling you where we will finish? Again, another poster with wishful thinking.

Come on, worst place we ca finish is 3rd

MG42

@Sergi
Short on memory are you. Was just last season when the Saliba injury cost is the title. This season all teams are stronger and with Noroteta we are 1 injury in the back four away from fighting for to 4. You really got to weitem on not showing your lack of nous.

jwl

I forgot about the different pots, I agree that making effort to finish first is worth it.

Nice that both uniteds are out but now they don’t have euro comp to worry about either which will help them in league.

Benjamin

I will rather see Newcastle and United fail
And take my chances finishing top 3 than
hoping for a 5 place!

WengerEagle

We shouldn’t be scared of anybody although having said that I’d rather avoid PSG in the last 16.

They’re an erratic mess but they have the best player in the world in Mbappe so they are always a threat.

salparadisenyc

Was hoping Milan would squeak thru but PSG jammed in. Newcastle and United not even landing in Europa is quality, don’t care about the 5th Spursy spot.

Id take anyone in that draw barring Inter, PSG wouldn’t be ideal but we could absolutely do them.

MG42

I can tell lots of shortsighted people’s comments here. CL is a must for us if we want to stay on the good side of FFP because of the prize money income. And because we have a checkbook manager we need plenty of room within FFP. One never knows what fuckup is around the corner, no one saw the full squad travel to PSV coming even in their wildest dreams. Arteta is wired to repeat fuckups. In addition injuries are also part of the game, you can do all the wishing and hoping you want but CL is not guaranteed,… Read more »

Dissenter

Pedro has been barking about an elite mentality but can’t identify it in operation. Arteta knows he has to keep the squad together to work through the loss at Villa Park. It would have been dim of Arteta to be acceptive a loss after the Villa game, that would have been two consecutive losses before the Brighton game. I also think it’s very arrogant of Pedro to assume this squad of players who have waited all their lives to take part in CL games can be so nonchalant about our sixth CL game in six years. The players can easily… Read more »

China1

Paddy

‘ Bobb and Hamilton are both 20. Nwaneri, Lewis Skelly and Walters are 16,17, and 18.’

Then why take them?

Wenger used to say if you’re good enough you’re old enough and this is demonstrably true.

allezkev

Arsène handed first-team debuts to 83 players who had come through our academy. The first was Paulo Vernazza in October 1997 against Birmingham City in the League Cup, and the last was Ben Sheaf in October 2017 in a Europa League game with Red Star Belgrade….

(From Arsenal website)

I wonder what happened to those 83 and I wonder how many of them developed into 1st team regulars at Arsenal?

Wicked Willy

China From that I think we can infer that those 3 boys are not yet good enough. I have high hopes for all of them, but I just don’t understand why people are crying over them not getting a game. I’m well chuffed with the result given the team we put out. We are going to need our squad in the next few weeks and the fringe players got important minutes. The funny thing is I was advocating for one more defender in pre-season and most people shut me down saying we were well stocked. I was also advocating for… Read more »

Wicked Willy

I also think it’s disingenuous of Pedro to put that comparison chart up from last season – our squad depth was poor last season. This season not so much and o and behold our stability is a lot less. Next season will be even more fluid. I also don’t believe we have had as many injuries this season as Chelsea, Utd, Spurs or Newcastle, so I’m really not sure how Arteta can be blamed for the injury situation. For that we would have to consistently be an injury outlier, which we are not. Maybe Pedro’s weakness is allowing narratives to… Read more »

rollen

Good to see both Utd. doing well in CL!

jwl

“GRAHAM POTTER is being lined up to replace Erik ten Hag at Manchester United. SunSport understands incoming investor Sir Jim Ratcliffe has met with former Chelsea chief Potter and favours him as the new boss at Old Trafford if he fires Ten Hag.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/25046672/graham-potter-replace-ten-hag-man-utd-manager-ratcliffe/

Markymak

Eddie Howe – is going to be joining Erik 7 on the bus outta their clubs soon enough

Josip Skoblar

I hope we get PSG in the next round. We will beat them easily.

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